It took only one listen for us to fall in love with newcomer Morgan James. Her vocal prowess is reminiscent of Christina Aguilera, but her soulful tone and deliver is unique only to her.
James’ budding career started on Broadway, where she appeared in numerous plays, including Motown: The Musical, Godspell, and The Addams Family. It was also this forum that landed her the opportunity to meet music pioneer Berry Gordy Jr.
“He became my mentor, he introduced me to Doug Morris at Sony, and Doug introduced me to L.A. Reid,” James recalls. “They’ve just welcomed me with open arms.
“Mr. Gordy is such an incredible person to have on my side, he taught me so much, so that was my unbelievably seamless transition. I wanted a record deal, I wanted to make records, but I didn’t know how.”
Although it took some time for James to land her deal with Epic, the classically trained singer’s dream of one day becoming a star was always her focus.
“I got the bug and joined a choir when I was about 12, got a karaoke machine, memorized every lick Mariah Carey ever did, every lick Aretha [Franklin] ever did, and I just started gobbling up music,” she remembers. “I wanted to be on Broadway because that just seemed like such a classic New York thing to do.”
With all her musical experiences, nothing was more gratifying than actually recording an album. “Making my own album has been so rewarding because I’m the boss, it’s my vision, it’s my music that I’m writing. If it fails, I go down with it, if it succeeds, I get to ride that wave.”
Inspired by Aretha, Chaka Khan, Sade, Raphael Saadiq, and countless others, James, who launched her career with a live cover album, also received the blessings from another icon to launch her career.
“My single is ‘Call My Name’ and it’s an amazing song by Prince; it’s on Musicology. I’ve been singing it for a long time; I’m a big Prince fan. I had recorded the song, and it’s hard to get clearance for his songs because he’s very protective over his catalog as you should be. I played it for L.A. Reid and the urban department… who really just championed it and pushed to get it approved. L.A. made a personal phone call, they played it for Prince, and he said yes.”
Now that’s the definition of turning up!
“Call My Name” appears on James’ debut studio album, Hunter, which includes nine original songs and three covers.
“It really goes on a journey of my life and my personal relationships, and especially over the last five years, getting over a really bad breakup, so I kind of go on a really tumultuous journey. Writing the album was really therapeutic…it’s made with real ingredients.”
Watch Morgan James perform her single, "Call My Name."